We have discussed the matter of witness intimidation many times on this blog. This blog’s main purpose is to peel back the curtain of mystery on our criminal justice system and how it impacts you. For example, I have often pointed out how broad a law may be applied in court. Intimidation of a Witness is one such law.
Of course, you are unlikely to feel that Dorchester resident Trevor A. Watson, 44 (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) is a victim of confusion. He was sentenced last week to 30 years in prison for such a crime. Actually, he took it a bit further than what we usually see, apparently. He was convicted of trying to actually murder a federal informant.
I would expect that we all understand that doing something like that is illegal…on a number of fronts.
The case stems back a few years. The year 2000 in fact. Apparently, a cocaine trafficking investigation was ongoing against the Defendant by federal agents. Apparently unwilling to keep his defense to within the allowable guidelines, he went after one of the informants. “Went after” in this case means “stabbing around 10 times, causing damage to various organs”. According to the government, perhaps in an effort to eliminate any doubt, the Defendant made comments during the stabbing, such as, “You talking, huh? You telling?”
And so it was that the Defendant and an associate were awarded criminal charges other than drug trafficking…namely attempted murder.
According to the government, and apparently the jury, the Defendant, rather than doing something silly like depending on an experienced criminal defense attorney on those charges, decided that consistency was the best plan. Therefore, he communicated with colleagues while that matter was pending, apparently urging them to try to eliminate the competition (witnesses against him).
Apparently in writing, no less!
In one such letter, the Defendant is said to have written, “I had introduced my lawyer to the fact that if the victim in my case was to sign an affidavit saying I’m not the guy who stabbed him, it was some Spanish guy about 30, which I am not either, I’ll be alright.” and “The Paul Pierce case was the same way, but at trial he changed his statements and I got found not guilty of att. mur. [attempted murder].”
The “Paul Pierce case” was a matter in which the Defendant is said to have stabbed the Celtics player. In that matter, witnesses had indeed recanted their prior statements and the jury only found the Defendant guilty of assault and battery, for which the Defendant was sentenced to one year in involuntary Commonwealth housing.
But then came the new problem he had caused himself. Witness tampering charges.
This went to trial twice. The first time, it ended in a hung jury, which means that the jury could not come to a unanimous verdict. However, the second time was the charm for the government.
The Defendant was found guilty of witness tampering.
Last week, Judge Young awarded the Defendant his prize.
Explaining to the Defendant, “What you did was to terrorize your community and attempt to murder an individual in broad daylight in an effort to put yourself beyond the law,” Judge Young delivered a 30 year sentence. “If an American jury concludes that you’ve messed with the law, as you have, then its full weight will be visited upon you” he said.
Indeed, the Defendant was given the maximum sentence.
Brockton attorney Martin Leppo, who represents the Defendant, said he filed the notice for appeal yesterday. Leppo said that his client maintains he was unaware the victim was a DEA informant.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Attempted Murder and Witness Intimidation:
‘We have often spoken about the fact that prosecutors, judges and, indeed, the law itself, does not appreciate “self helpers” when it comes to criminal justice. We have discussed many instances where people who were in a little trouble decided to try to “fix” that problem in their own way…and ended up simply making their plight worse.
We have seen cases where, for example, Doug Deadbeat borrowed money from Harry Hassit and does not pay back. Harry decides that he will use a little physical influence on Dougie. The result? No payback other than criminal charges. We have discussed cases in which Michael Mouth was pulled over for a mere traffic violation, but ended up trying to outrun, outfight or outwit the officer and ended up with a bunch of felony charges.
We have also waded through more confusing matters such as the laws which govern interaction with the police. As you know, you have the right to remain silent. However, you do not have the right to lie. If you lie to an investigating officer, you are committing the felony of Intimidating a Witness. Of course, things do not work in the reverse that way. Police officers are allowed to lie in any way possible to trick someone they have decided is a “target” to help them in their investigations or trick the suspect into making a statement that can be twisted and turned so that it revisits the speaker in court…albeit in a different light .
The case of the Defendant, though, is a type of “self-help” which is really frowned upon. It is what we normally think of when we hear about witness intimidation. It is considered a really out-of-bounds crime and “dirty pool”. This is why the government went after the Defendant even after he had been found guilty of the armed assault. Of course, what makes the Defendant worse in the eyes of the law is that he seems to have a track record in doing this type of thing.
A track record,, if you believe his purported letter, of which he is quite proud. Said pride got him the maximum possible sentence.
The old adage in which we praise those who have pride in their work is not particularly true in such matters.
In other words, if you are facing a criminal investigation or actual criminal charges, do not take your lead from popular movies like “The Godfather” series (great as they were). Get a criminal defense attorney in whom you have confidence and try to follow his or her lead.
It will probably cost you less time in the end…should things go in that direction.
Should you find yourself in this position, and you would like to discuss the possibility of my representing you, please feel free to call me to set up a free initial consultation at 617–492-3000.
To view the original stories, please go to: http://www.boston.com/yourtown/boston/southend/articles/2011/03/11/trying_to_kill_informant_gets_man_30_year_term/ and http://southend.patch.com/articles/paul-pierce-assailant-convicted-in-south-end-murder-attempt